You can’t create bokeh with micro four-thirds cameras, scream the trolls. Boy, are they wrong. I, along with many authors here at Photofocus, use or have used micro four-thirds cameras professionally. We can tell you that creating bokeh has never been an issue.
There are plenty of fast primes for micro four-thirds cameras that can help create gorgeous out-of-focus areas. With a two-times crop and fast apertures, you can make backgrounds melt away into nothing. The trolls spread fake news because they misunderstand the system.
Of course, there’s so much more to creating bokeh than just having fast lenses. You need to know your gear AND you need to know how to place your subjects relative to you, the lens, and to their background. Still, fast, well-made, sharp lenses like the ones listed below certainly help. Let’s take a closer look at these micro four-thirds bokeh beasts.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f/1.2 PRO (a jewel in the M4/3 crown)
A 34mm equivalent lens with a blazing fast maximum aperture of f/1.2. Can you even believe it! This is easily one of my favorite lenses of all time on any platform. To start off with, being a pro lens, it’s built like a tank with an incredible amount of weather sealing. The main selling point, though is the feathered-bokeh that the line of f/1.2 prime lenses has become famous for.
A whopping 15 elements in 11 groups allow you to shoot wide open at f/1.2 and get edge-to-edge sharpness. The bokeh that you’ll create will make a single tear roll down your left cheek every time you use it. The manual focus clutch makes it easy to dial in focus, or you can just use enjoy the blazing fast autofocus. If you’ve never had the honor of using this lens, well, you’re missing out. It’s a work of art that’s perfect for portraits, street photography, and more.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 25mm f/1.2 PRO (feathered micro four-thirds bokeh)
Much like its 17mm f/1.2 PRO brother, the Olympus 25mm F/1.2 PRO features an all-metal build with oodles of weather sealing. Yes, it also features top-drawer optics (19 elements in 14 groups with 9 aperture blades) that can create Olympus’ feathered bokeh. This 50mm equivalent lens is perfect for street photography, event photography and portraiture.
Working in low light with this lens is an absolute breeze. It focuses rapidly, shows zero signs of fringing or chromatic aberration, and again, is tack sharp at f/1.2. Pair this lens up with any of Olympus’s newer cameras that have eye AF and you’ll have a portrait lens that will amaze you.
Panasonic Leica DG Nocticron 42.5mm f/1.2 ASPH. POWER O.I.S
Yes, it has a ridiculously long name. However, this lens delivers on all fronts. So, we can let it slide. This Leica endorsed 85mm equivalent lens is a jewel in the micro four-thirds crown. Low light performance? Please, it can see in the dark! This lens is also stabilized which makes it even easier to use. The bokeh? It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
14 elements in 11 groups, and nine rounded aperture blades in a body that weighs less than 1lb! Now that’s impressive. This lens is so easy to use. You can melt away your backgrounds without even trying thanks to the f/1.2 aperture and the compression a short telephoto lens gives. An all-metal build? Yes. Fast-focusing? Yes! If you’re a professional portrait photographer, this is the lens you need to reach for.
A small collection of images captured with the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 and the Panasonic Leica 42.5mm f/1.2. Photo credits to Darren Miles and Levi Sim.
Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45mm f/1.8 (An affordable bokeh beast)
One of the best lenses on the micro four-thirds system also happens to be incredibly affordable. If you want a quality 90mm equivalent portrait lens that has classic vintage looks, stunning optics and that can create bokeh with the best of them, the Olympus 45mm f/1.8 is for you.
In terms of sharpness and bokeh, this sub $400 lens is honestly hard to beat. Edge-to-edge sharpness is there right from f/1.8. The bokeh you’ll create will be dreamy and oh so creamy. It’s one of the fastest focusing lenses on the platform as well. Amazingly, this lens weighs just 0.25lbs. Great things do come in small packages!
Olympus M.Zuiko 75mm f/1.8 (a micro four-thirds masterpiece)
For those of you who like shooting portraits with longer lenses, the Olympus 75mm f/1.8 is for you. This lens is stunning. In fact, a regular author here at Photofocus, Darren Miles, calls it the best portrait lens for micro four-thirds. In his review, Darren said:
“Hands down, bar none, it has some of the sharpest optics of any lens I’ve ever used across any system. The level of detail from the 75mm is simply glorious! Razor sharp wide-open at f/1.8 with some of the prettiest bokeh — highly subjective I know — I’ve ever seen on any lens.”Darren Miles
Pretty high praise from a photographer who shoots professionally with many different systems. This 150mm equivalent prime is well made, it weighs just 0.67lbs (305g), and it is much more affordable than you might think. If you love bokeh and you shoot with Panasonic or Olympus micro four-thirds cameras, it will be a match made in heaven.